Recently we had the twice-yearly council pick up where you can put junk on the front verge for collection. Generally, other people collect much of the stuff that gets thrown out before the council comes around. One person’s junk can be another’s treasure.
This got me thinking about how cluttered our lives can become. We all accumulate stuff. But how much of it do we use and how much just sits around? This is a universal problem. Japanese writer Marie Kondo had great success with her “KonMari” method of de-cluttering.
One key point she says is to ask yourself if touching an object brings you joy? If it does not, then get rid of it. She also recommends sorting out similar objects together rather than doing a room at a time. This is simple but goes against what we naturally tend to do.
There are other forms of clutter, which do not involve objects. Our diary can be filled with too many commitments. Our immediate environment can be cluttered with noise and distractions. Our lives can be cluttered with too many demands and relationships, which are draining. Our finances can be cluttered with debts.
Ultimately all this creates stress in our lives. A growing body of work shows that stress contributes to chronic inflammation in the body. In turn this leads to a number of illnesses including heart disease. And of course chronic stress is not good for our mental health either.
Getting adequate sleep, regular exercise (can be as basic as a walk) and meditation also help us with managing stress.
I commonly get asked, what are you doing on the weekend? My standard answer is “as little as possible”. The original idea of the weekend was for people who worked all week to have time off to relax. Today we all seem to think that the weekend should be filled up with commitments.
There is nothing wrong with planning an activity for the weekend. It could be a meal out, a trip to the cinema or catching up with family or friends. Parents will relate to the fact that children’s sport or other events can consume parts of the weekend. This multiplies with more children. But we do not need to fill up the whole diary.
For many of us the week is full of commitments. We do not have to replicate that on the weekend. There is no need for the weekend to get “cluttered” as well, or at least on a weekly basis.
And there are things we can do that do not cost much or any money. Pottering in the garden, going for a walk, going to the beach or a park, playing with your children, reading a book or pursuing a hobby.
New research has confirmed (again) that something as simple as spending time in nature makes us feel happier. This is not hard to do and costs little.
There are other things we can do to reduce and manage clutter and stress. It can be as simple as just throwing out stuff that you no longer need or use. We can re-examine our priorities in life and choose which commitments to make and which to say no to. We can find silence by switching off devices or going out into nature. We can choose who we want to spend time with. We can get finances under control by making different decisions about spending.
This weekend is Easter. This provides an extended weekend for most people in Western countries. Aside from the religious side, it is an opportunity to relax and unwind.
Our lives can be de-cluttered. It is up to us to do it.
Dr Joe Kosterich M.B.B.S is an author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life. Dr Joe also gives practical, motivational health talks for the general public and organisations where he is known as “An independent doctor who talks about health”.
His latest book “60 minutes to Better Health” is available on Amazon.